New Advances in Autism

A topical collection in Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425). This collection belongs to the section "Developmental Neuroscience".

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Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have significantly increased. According to the DSM-V, ASD is a heterogeneous set of neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by limitations in social communication and interaction as well as the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviours.

This Topical Collection of Brain Sciences aims to present a collection of studies detailing the most recent advancements in the field of autism research. Authors are invited to submit cutting-edge research and reviews that address a broad range of topics related to ASD including the following: epidemiology, motor development, screening, early diagnosis, evidence-based interventions, comorbidities, new technologies (e.g., eye-tracking, EEG, ECG, MR, wearable sensors, VR, robotic research), adaptive behaviours, sensory profiles, language, cognitive priors, biomarkers, autism and health, and transition to adult age. In particular, we aim to present advances in autism research that may have a significant translational effect to the field of clinical services.

Dr. Antonio Narzisi
Collection Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • epidemiology
  • screening
  • diagnosis
  • intervention
  • technologies

Published Papers (3 papers)

2023

12 pages, 3582 KiB  
Article
The Relationship between Retained Primitive Reflexes and Hemispheric Connectivity in Autism Spectrum Disorders
by Robert Melillo, Gerry Leisman, Calixto Machado, Yanin Machado-Ferrer, Mauricio Chinchilla-Acosta, Ty Melillo and Eli Carmeli
Brain Sci. 2023, 13(8), 1147; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci13081147 - 30 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5465
Abstract
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be identified by a general tendency toward a reduction in the expression of low-band, widely dispersed integrative activities, which is made up for by an increase in localized, high-frequency, regionally dispersed activity. The study assessed ASD children [...] Read more.
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be identified by a general tendency toward a reduction in the expression of low-band, widely dispersed integrative activities, which is made up for by an increase in localized, high-frequency, regionally dispersed activity. The study assessed ASD children and adults all possessing retained primitive reflexes (RPRs) compared with a control group that did not attempt to reduce or remove those RPRs and then examined the effects on qEEG and brain network connectivity. Methods: Analysis of qEEG spectral and functional connectivity was performed, to identify associations with the presence or absence of retained primitive reflexes (RPRs), before and after an intervention based on TENS unilateral stimulation. Results: The results point to abnormal lateralization in ASD, including long-range underconnectivity, a greater left-over-right qEEG functional connectivity ratio, and short-range overconnectivity in ASD. Conclusions: Clinical improvement and the absence of RPRs may be linked to variations in qEEG frequency bands and more optimized brain networks, resulting in more developmentally appropriate long-range connectivity links, primarily in the right hemisphere. Full article
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17 pages, 15380 KiB  
Article
Maternal LPS Exposure Enhances the 5-HT Level in the Prefrontal Cortex of Autism-like Young Offspring
by Fang Lin, Xinyuan Wang, Ruifang Luo, Binlin Yuan, Shasha Ye, Ting Yang, Lu Xiao and Jie Chen
Brain Sci. 2023, 13(6), 958; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci13060958 - 15 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1538
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by reduced social interactions, impaired communication, and stereotyped behavior. The aim of this research is to investigate the changes in serotonin (5-HT) in the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) of autism-like offspring induced by maternal [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by reduced social interactions, impaired communication, and stereotyped behavior. The aim of this research is to investigate the changes in serotonin (5-HT) in the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) of autism-like offspring induced by maternal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were intraperitoneally injected with LPS to establish an autism-like model in their offspring. Offspring prenatally exposed to LPS showed autism-like behavior. The serotonin level in the mPFC of 2-week-old offspring was noticeably increased after maternal LPS exposure. Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were enriched in pathways related to tryptophan metabolism and the serotonin system, as shown in RNA-seq findings. Consistently, tryptophan and serotonin metabolisms were altered in 2-week-old LPS-exposed offspring. The mRNA expression levels of 5-HT catabolic enzymes were remarkably reduced or tended to decrease. Moreover, maternal LPS exposure resulted in a higher serotonin 1B receptor (5-HT1BR) expression level in the mPFC but no difference in tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) or serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT). The concentrations of 5-HT in serum and colon were increased in LPS-exposed offspring. Meanwhile, the expression level of tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) in the colon was increased after maternal LPS treatment, whereas SERT was reduced. Furthermore, Golgi-Cox staining showed that neuronal dendritic length and spine density were significantly reduced in the mPFC of LPS-exposed offspring. The current study reveals that maternal LPS treatment resulted in an exaltation of the 5-HT of mPFC in ASD-like young rats, which may partly be caused by the abnormal elevation of 5-HT metabolism in its colon. Full article
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15 pages, 1895 KiB  
Article
A Potential Biomarker of Brain Activity in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot fNIRS Study in Female Preschoolers
by Elena Scaffei, Raffaele Mazziotti, Eugenia Conti, Valeria Costanzo, Sara Calderoni, Andrea Stoccoro, Claudia Carmassi, Raffaella Tancredi, Laura Baroncelli and Roberta Battini
Brain Sci. 2023, 13(6), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci13060951 - 14 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1932
Abstract
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a neurodevelopmental condition whose detection still remains challenging in young females due to the heterogeneity of the behavioral phenotype and the capacity of camouflage. The availability of quantitative biomarkers to assess brain function may support in the [...] Read more.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a neurodevelopmental condition whose detection still remains challenging in young females due to the heterogeneity of the behavioral phenotype and the capacity of camouflage. The availability of quantitative biomarkers to assess brain function may support in the assessment of ASD. Functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive and flexible tool that quantifies cortical hemodynamic responses (HDR) that can be easily employed to describe brain activity. Since the study of the visual phenotype is a paradigmatic model to evaluate cerebral processing in many neurodevelopmental conditions, we hypothesized that visually-evoked HDR (vHDR) might represent a potential biomarker in ASD females. We performed a case-control study comparing vHDR in a cohort of high-functioning preschooler females with ASD (fASD) and sex/age matched peers. We demonstrated the feasibility of visual fNIRS measurements in fASD, and the possibility to discriminate between fASD and typical subjects using different signal features, such as the amplitude and lateralization of vHDR. Moreover, the level of response lateralization was correlated to the severity of autistic traits. These results corroborate the cruciality of sensory symptoms in ASD, paving the way for the validation of the fNIRS analytical tool for diagnosis and treatment outcome monitoring in the ASD population. Full article
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